Who: Memphis Grizzlies (26-21) vs. Dallas Mavericks (28-21)
When: Wednesday, February 5th, 7:00 PM CST
Where: FedEx Forum, Memphis, TN
Watch and Listen: Sportsouth, 92.9 FM, 680 AM
Discuss: 3SOB on Twitter / 3SOB Forum, Grizzlies Message Boards
So I’m going to start of by stating that today’s my grandpa’s birthday, and I’m sure he’d love nothing more as a gift than a Memphis Grizzlies win… alright, well that might not exactly be the case, but I’d love a win for sure. It might be early to talk about a “control your fate” game, but a chance to put a negative in Dallas’s column is a is a big deal given the current state of the playoff picture. The Grizzlies came plummeting down to earth with the loss to Oklahoma City on Monday night, but could turn things back around quickly here against Dallas, especially with a forgiving schedule to carry them to the All-Star break, and closer to Mike Conley’s return.
Nick Calathes vs Jose Calderon
Outlined in the key stats for the Mavs on the chalkboard above is their spectacular assist-to-turnover ratio, which is a major testament to how well-quarterbacked their offense is. Jose Calderon is the driving force behind that, and while his assist numbers are down from their astronomical heights of last season, his turnover rates are also at a career low to compensate. Nick Calathes had a career night in his first career start against the Milwaukee Bucks. But that was the Bucks. Against Oklahoma City, it was another story for Nick, but not for the reasons you would imagine. He was getting the same wide open looks and clear lanes to the cup, but just couldn’t connect on them. Coach Joerger was clearly unhappy with his performance for the game, as he basically said “I’d rather play with no point guard at all,” by pulling him for the fourth quarter.
Courtney Lee vs Monta Ellis
Monta Ellis started off the year like a bat out of hell in his new digs with the Mavericks, but has seen his monthly averages regress ever so slightly each month. He started February strong, however, as he looks to buck the trend, by putting up an efficient 22 points on the dismal shell of the Cleveland Cavaliers with 7 assists to boot. Courtney Lee has been excellent, but it’s matchups like these where it really wouldn’t hurt to have the ol’ Grindfather back in the fold. Lee has seen his shooting percentages take a hit over the past two games as he has had to spend an uncomfortable portion of his minutes handling the ball. He’s capable of doing so effectively, but it really takes him away from doing what he was brought here to do, so you have to hope that either Calathes or 10-day signee Darius Morris can hold down the fort at the one until Conley comes back.
Tayshaun Prince vs Shawn Marion
After missing two games with a nagging shoulder injury, Shawn Marion is expected to return to the Mavericks’ lineup tonight. Marion basically brings all the tools that Tayshaun Prince brings to the table, and then some, so I’m going to save you the trouble of reading any more with this matchup.
Zach Randolph vs Dirk Nowitzki
Love watching this matchup. Dirk is a surefire future Hall-of-Famer amid what is shaping up to be arguably one of the best seasons of his illustrious career. At 35 years old, his PER is higher than it has been since 2008, for crying out loud. Zach Randolph knows that Dirk has had his number over the past few years, and it’s always fun to watch a Zbo with just a little bit of extra motivation. However, this can be a blessing and a curse, as you have to hope that Zach doesn’t turn this into a one-on-one battle in his head as he tends to do at times. If we’ve got him trying to match Nowitzki basket for basket, we could be in for some inefficient basketball, as the Mavs have held him below 50% shooting on the year for each of the past three seasons. Stay tuned.
Marc Gasol vs Samuel Dalembert
The center position has been somewhat of a revolving door for the Mavericks with each of Sam Dalembert, Brendan Wright, and Dejuan Blair battling for minutes at the spot throughout the season. By and large, Dalembert has been the breadwinner of the arrangement with 35 starts under his belt, and he’s the current holder of the starting job. Fair or unfair, the center position in Dallas will be perpetually benchmarked to Tyson Chandler. Dalembert is allowing an opposing shooting percentage of 52.0% at the rim, which appears pretty similar to Tyson’s 51.6%, but it stands to note that opponents are not nearly as afraid to take it to him. In just 19.9 minutes per game, opponents average 6.4 attempts per game against Dalembert, while Chandler faces 6.6 attempts in 28.3 minutes. Marc Gasol is in the middle of undergoing the long process of rounding back into offensive form and is passing on looks that he generally would be taking, but his defensive impact has been unquestionable thus far.
The Mavericks’ bench may not be the dynamo that it was last season, but it still ranks out in the top third of the league, at a clip of 33.8 points per game. However, that number is about to rise, with summer acquisition Devin Harris finally making his way into the rotation. His return has spelled a dramatic rise in Dallas’s bench contribution, as they are averaging 43.2 points per game from the bench over their last 5 contests. Harris, who dropped a season-high 16 points in his last game, has joined a very formidable bench unit also consisting of consistent scoring threat Vince Carter, energy stud Jae Crowder, and PER champion big men Wright and Blair. In other words, unless we’re looking at a blowout going one way or another, it doesn’t appear that we’ll get to see much, if any, of our good friend Wayne Ellington. The Grizzlies’ bench has been tested of late, with the lack of backcourt depth shining through, as Tayshaun, Courtney, Mike Miller, and even Jamaal Franklin have seen stretches as the lead ballhandler of the second unit. It would be real nice if Coach Joerger can squeeze a few minutes out of Morris tonight, who now has a few days under his belt of learning the system.